A Caldecott medalist and a Newbery Honor-winning poet celebrate the beauty and value of spirals.What makes the tiny snail shell so beautiful? Why does that shape occur in nature over and over again--in rushing rivers, in a flower bud, even inside your ear?Read more...
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A Caldecott medalist and a Newbery Honor-winning poet celebrate the beauty and value of spirals.What makes the tiny snail shell so beautiful? Why does that shape occur in nature over and over again--in rushing rivers, in a flower bud, even inside your ear?
With simplicity and grace, Joyce Sidman's poetry paired with Beth Krommes's scratchboard illustrations not only reveal the many spirals in nature--from fiddleheads to elephant tusks, from crashing waves to spiraling galaxies--but also celebrate the beauty and usefulness of this fascinating shape.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2011-09-19
- Reviewer: Staff
This is one of those rare children’s books that make you look at the physical world differently. “A spiral is a clever shape. It is graceful and strong,” writes Newbery Honor artist Sidman (Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night), as she and Caldecott Medalist Krommes (The House in the Night) explore spirals found in nature. A spiral, Sidman decides, is nature’s elegant solution in many respects: “It fits neatly in small places” (hence the sleeping position of burrow-dwelling animals), it offers protection and strength (the defensive curl of the porcupine), and it provides firm grasps (monkey’s tail, elephant’s trunk). But beyond these utilitarian advantages, spirals are beautiful—whether we see in them hints of infinity, the promise of unfolding potential, or the embodiment of mathematical perfection. This feast for thought is a visual banquet, as well: working in her signature scratchboard style and employing a gorgeous burnished palette, Krommes creates spiral-packed nature scenes that have a timeless, classic beauty. Whether she’s portraying a tiny curled eastern chipmunk or a classic funnel tornado, it’s clear that nature isn’t the only master at work. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)
Finding nature's infinite patterns
Squares, circles and triangles, sure. But who knew there were so many spirals around us? Just as she did in her recent Caldecott Honor title, Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night, and Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature’s Survivors, Joyce Sidman challenges young readers to look at their environment with fresh eyes in Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature.
Sidman’s lyrical text opens with an unexpected observation: “A spiral is a snuggling shape,” exemplified by slumbering animals coiled tight to stay warm through hibernation. It continues with a look at what a spiral is (e.g., a clever shape in a butterfly’s proboscis or a spider’s web); what a spiral does (e.g., a snail shell that protects its inhabitant); and the need for spirals (e.g., an Asian elephant that uses its spiraling trunk to grasp food).
It’s not only in plants and animals that spirals are found. A bold spiral curves to make a breaking ocean wave, while a twisting spiral forms a classic funnel tornado. Still another spiral stretches “starry arms through space” to form a galaxy. To truly understand the formation and function of these spirals, children need to see them in action. In her signature scratchboard illustrations, Caldecott Medalist Beth Krommes does just that. From a fern’s curling leaves to a merino sheep’s horns to the tentacles of an octopus, the beautifully luminous illustrations depict both predictable and unusual examples of spirals.
For curious children (and adults), a concluding double-page spread offers more information on many spirals, as well as an explanation of Fibonacci numbers and the spirals they create. It may take several reads before children notice all of the swirling spirals, but each reading will be a stunning adventure to see how the world shapes up.